Michelle Ann Kratts

Archive for the ‘Arthur E. Barthel’ Category

Our Fathers Who Art In Heaven

In Arthur E. Barthel, Family Scrapbook, Gone But Not Forgotten, Niagara Deaths, Niagara Falls, Uncategorized on June 26, 2013 at 4:07 pm

Our Fathers

Our Fathers

By Michelle Barthel Kratts and Amy Salvatore Wall…In memory of our fathers

Our fathers are in heaven now. As another Father’s Day approaches some of us feel a sense of emptiness and loss. Yet some of us, like Amy and I, celebrate lives completed. For when all is said and done, all of our lives are a story–with a beginning, a middle and an end–and our fathers lived happily ever after.

Amy and I met just after our fathers had died. We were struck by all of the similiarities in our personalities and in our lives. We have this fear of water (we swear we must have been passengers on the Titanic), dislike of amusement parks. An intense love for cemeteries, history and magic. We love to dress up in period clothing. We love old houses and antiques. We want to go back in time. We married men with the same name (Mike) and even gave our sons the same name (Brendan). We are Italian, yet there is this common bond of early southern ancestry and Confederate soldiers in other family lines. There are even lines that show up in Salem, Massachusetts. But most of all, we share this unquenchable thirst to tunnel our way through our family histories and inevitably into the places where our ancestors now reside…the spirit world. There is a certain comfort we have in knowing that there is family on the other side. That if we know their stories, no one ever really dies. Especially our fathers–for they are our first link to everything that lies beyond.

Both of our fathers’ stories begin deep in snow…with a Niagara Falls winter. Benjamin Salvatore was born on January 11, 1938, to Joseph and Pearl Salvatore. Robert Barthel was born a decade later on February 3, 1949, to Arthur and Ada Johanna Barthel. Research into our family histories has proven that even our grandparents may have made some connections. Amy’s father’s mother, Pearl, lived at 1350 Cleveland Avenue in Niagara Falls and my father’s father, Arthur, lived with his cousins, the Schmidt’s, at 1634 Cleveland Avenue. It’s our little joke that they were friends…perhaps one day our research will shed some truth on that.

Ironically, our fathers both lost their lives to that dreaded disease, cancer, after retiring from the Sodium Department at Dupont. Some day we may find that they were friends…and that they had actually spoken of us–their crazy daughters! But long before the chemical factories and the cancer had claimed them, they took their children on a magic carpet ride through life. My earliest years were spent as an Army brat, traveling to different places, living in Europe. Amy’s father was a truck driver and her family moved over 20 times.

Ben and Bob were men with a certain magnetic energy that has transcended death. Bob’s great love was sports and a good story. Ben was an avid hunter and fisherman. They loved their families and their grandchildren, especially.

So on this Father’s Day, just a few years following our fathers’ deaths, Amy and I like to imagine that they are not really gone at all. In fact, they are our special guides when we search for the secrets of our ancestors and our past. And we are lucky to have them in that other place.

Part 1: Finding My Grandfather’s War

In Arthur E. Barthel, Finding My Grandfather's War, Off to War on December 27, 2012 at 6:17 pm


My grandfather, Arthur E. Barthel


One of the reasons that I have always pursued genealogy was because of my grandfather, Arthur E. Barthel.  I barely knew him, but the little bits and pieces of the stories I have heard about his war service have intrigued me since I was a little girl.

There were whispers about my grandfather.  He was depressed at times.  I can see that sadness in his eyes in the pictures I have of him.  Later I learned that my grandfather suffered emotionally as a result of his service during the war.  In fact there is a card that was issued by the VA with his name and disorder imprinted upon it.   The disability for which treatment is authorized–nervous disorder.  In other words, PTSD–Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  It was more of a secret than anything else back in those days.  Today it is more widely discussed as veterans return from our present wars suffering from the same disorder.  As a nation, we have finally come to a realization that war is a miserable affair.  Men and women inevitably have difficulty accepting the things that they have experienced during war.


VA Card 1 Nervous Disorder


Thanks to my aunt, who has recently uncovered an amazing treasure trove of information regarding my grandfather’s service, I may be able to find the details of this part of his life.  Researching World War II service is not easy.  It might be said that researching an individual who served during the Civil War is much easier–thanks to the huge fire of 1973 in which the majority of Army and Army Air Force Records were destroyed.

This series of stories will follow my search for my grandfather’s war and will hopefully aid you as you search for your grandfather’s war.

On Tuesday, January 15th, at 6:00, the Lewiston Public Library will be offering a free genealogy class to the public:  Searching our Ancestors Using Military Records.  This class, presented by Jim Lawson,  a FamilySearch Center librarian and expert in military records, will  include an in-depth look into locating and researching various American military records for genealogical purposes.  There will also be a presentation by the Daughters of the American Revolution. This will include details about membership as well as research methods for filling out the application. 

Welcome to the Army

In Arthur E. Barthel, Off to War on November 28, 2012 at 6:26 pm

Induction into ArmyWelcome to the Army

On May 7, 1942, two busloads of men from Niagara Falls left their usual lives behind and entered into the service of the United States Army. They had been called upon through the operation of Draft Board 583. They assembled at the Gorge Terminal at 7:15, were called by name and promptly inducted. By 8:00 they were on their way to Buffalo.

Further research may reveal that some never made it home. My grandfather, Arthur E. Barthel, was among the men who left. He served the entirety of the war in England with the 8th Air Force. He survived, but he would never be the same after that fateful day.

Here is the list of men with addresses. Perhaps your grandfather was among these men.

There were many sorts of Niagara men. Interestingly, there was one (unnamed man) who “refused to be sent to Buffalo, claiming that he was a conscientious objector.” He said he would rather go to jail than war.